In 2005, food tourism was identified by the Western Development Tourism Programme as a branded niche product for the region that could be used to:
- Promote compelling tourism propositions.
- Gain competitive advantage.
- Redress the seasonality of tourism demand.
- Develop a sense of place.
The Tourism Tastes Trail (TTT) started life as the Western Food Trail in 2005, which aimed to establish a network of producers in the Western Region. The region was one of four regions (the others were Tuscany, Midi-Pyrenees and Poland) working on the development of a ‘Tourism Tastes Trail’. The TTT is an innovative and unique approach to product development. In 2006 the Western Food Trail was adapted and rebranded as the Tourism Tastes Trail (TTT). This contained two main elements:
- Food Tourism Seminar 2006.
- The Food Tourism Trail.
Food Tourism Seminar
Organised by the WDTP, the Food Tourism Seminar was a ground-breaking event – it set in motion the development of a pilot trail in order to create a marketable Food Tourism package which could be tested on the market in the Western Region.
The seminar’s main aim was to discuss how food tourism opportunities could attract more visitors to the Western Region for a quality food experience centred on locally produced and specialist food.
Held on 31 March 2006 in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim, the seminar was attended by a broad range of over 200 delegates. These represented artisan and larger food producers, specialist food retailers, specialist craft retailers, accommodation and tourism providers, restaurants, private consultants operating in food/tourism, national/regional food and tourism support agencies.
Food Tourism Trail
The TTT programme set out to establish a Food Tourism trail based on traditional product themes that are indigenous to the Western Region. Galway county was selected as the destination for the pilot trail and approximately 20 providers (food producers, accommodation and hospitality providers) covering the areas of Connemara, the Aran Islands and Galway city worked with the WDTP to create a three-night/four-day holiday package.
The package was aimed at groups (based on a minimum of six) coming to the region via Shannon or Ireland West-Knock Airport. At the end of 2006, the food and tourism partners involved in the pilot trail agreed to establish a Product Marketing Group (PMG) to bring the TTT onto the next stage.